Local Guide To Halifax For The Conservative Party of Canada Convention 2018
You’ve fought for the right to be a delegate at the upcoming CPC18 convention. You’ve got your flights and hotel booked, but what will you do once you’re here? Even if you visited Halifax, Nova Scotia in the past, the city has undergone a few changes. You’ll be in town from August 23 to the 25th, and maybe a bit before or after, and even with such a short timeframe I’d hate to see you miss the fun.
Since the official event webpage is a bit low on insider details, I wanted to write my own guide as a way to welcome my fellow Canadian right wingers to my Nova Scotia Home. And if you want to support my live coverage of the event, please read my budget breakdown for the technology I need to bring high-quality live broadcasts to multiple platforms.
- What To Pack
- Flying Into Halifax Stanfield International
- Getting Around Halifax
- Restaurant Guide
- Parties and Events
- Thanks Margaret! Will You Be There?
-best viewed on desktop — tablets aren’t playing nicely!
WHAT TO PACK
The weather in Halifax is projected to be a mix of hot, muggy, rainy and windy during the Convention, so choose your outfits accordingly.
The streets in front of the Nova Centre, where the event will be held, have a brand new reputation for being a bit of a windtunnel since the Centre was constructed. Skirts and hair will go flying.
Speaking of hair, your ‘do will dry very slowly in this muggy part of the country so add an extra 20 minutes to your morning routine just for blow drying. Even if you get keratin treatments, straightening will have to be refreshed during the day. And of course, makeup primer and setting sprays are also a must. Even your nail polish will take longer to dry. Give yourself enough time to get ready in the mornings, and enough time for a fresh shower before you go out again in the evening. If you’re curious, Halifax has soft water.
As for footwear, our sidewalks are not world class. As a result, stilettos have never caught on. Bring flats for walking to restaurants or from your hotel to the convention, and duck into the ladies room at the center to switch into your heels.
FLYING INTO HALIFAX STANFIELD INTERNATIONAL
Nova Scotia’s main airport is the Halifax Stanfield International, named for the Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had, Robert Stanfield.
When you deplane, the escalator will bring you down to the baggage claim. The exits can be confusing. On the main, sun-filled level you can exit to turn left to Passenger Drop Off (don’t do this), straight forward to the large parking structure, or right to the taxi stands and bus. Passenger Pick Up is downstairs. Look for the elevators to your right after you exit the large room with the luggage carousel.
The Stanfield is approximately 35 minutes from the downtown core. Taxi rides from the airport to downtown will run you $65-$80. Unfortunately, Halifax does not have Uber or Lyft.
The airport is currently undergoing a facelift with lots of construction happening on the main level. You may wish to ask one of the airport ambassadors wearing a blue Nova Scotia tartan vest for help if you’re unsure about where the taxis are waiting.
If you’d rather hold on to your cash, you may wish to take advantage of the $2.75 for students and seniors / $3.50 for adults MetroX bus fare, which runs every thirty minutes during the day. Exit the airport’s main level and turn right, or ask one of those tartan vest helpers for directions. Again, there is construction, so some passages may be closed.
You will want to get on the 320 bus that will take you downtown to Scotia Square Mall. If you are unsure if it’s the right bus, ask! The labeling on bus schedules can be a bit confusing at first, because the schedule lists the Scotia Square or downtown destination as Ablemarle, which is a short street parallel to Barrington, right off Duke Street. There is a taxi stand waiting on Ablemarle right when you arrive. It’s a friendly city. Ask anyone for help if you’re ever lost. We can spot a tourist from a mile away and we’re itching to show you around.
If you choose to taxi the whole way, you should know that only certain taxis are entitled to the lucrative airport-downtown corridor. If you call a cab, make sure to let the dispatcher know that it’s an airport run.
There are also numerous car rental options, but for a three day stay in Halifax you’re better off with cabs. We are tourism friendly. Ninety-nine out of one hundred people on the street will assist if you get lost. Talking to stranger isn’t odd here. Don’t be frightened if someone wants to know if you have a family connection to the province, either.
A caveat — we are a Liberal and NDP city, so tell them you’re at a financial planner convention or something equally conversation-breaking.
GETTING AROUND HALIFAX
Once arrived and unpacked in your hotel or Airbnb, you’ll either be looking for a bite to eat with friends, or to head straight to the convention center. Click here to scroll down to my list of restaurant recommendations.
Now, Halifax is funny in how we name things. They’re “the new” or “the old” or the location is in the “old something or other.” For example: we have an Old Bridge (the MacDonald), and the New Bridge (the McKay)… that the New Bridge was built in the 60s makes no difference.
The Tory Convention is being held at the Nova Centre — that is, the New Convention Centre, as opposed to the Old Convention Centre , also known as the World Trade And Convention Centre, the Metro Centre, the hockey arena, and the Scotiabank Centre.
Halifax runs on nicknames. Our city’s population retains the rural characteristic of a folk memory for place names and we categorize spots by relative location and through personalities. This is likely because most current residents grew up around here, so we learned places by what they were when our family first encountered them… going back generations. For example, the Fairview Lawn Cemetery is home to the final destinations of numerous victims of the Titanic — but it’s the “cemetery out by the Windsor Street Exchange.” And it’s not The Old Triangle Pub on Prince, it’s “Try the Old Triangle, Dave’s playing tonight.”
In short: tell your taxi driver that you want to go to the New Convention Centre to avoid confusion.
TELL ME ABOUT...
The New Convention Centre was spearheaded by Joe Ramia after struggling for years to convince a stodgy municipal government that perhaps building on Argyle might be a good way to cover up the hideous rat-infested hole that had been dug into the ground of the downtown core for years. Under the direction of our (Tory-supported yet Liberal) Mayor Mike Savage who took over in 2012, the city has seen growth. Thank goodness. You’ll see a lot of construction on the go thanks to changes in city council. We’re on our way to being a touch competitive instead of wallowing in mediocrity.
While you’re here, please be as friendly as possible! As one of the vocal and visible conservatives in the city of Halifax (I often show up to the social ‘dos), I depend on others like me to keep up a good appearance. In return, I’ll be on my best behavior too — no picking fights, sneaking where I’m not supposed to be or running on to stages. Some people will still hate us, but at least it won’t be due to bad behavior.
As for the way we talk topography, it’s not just new and old.
We don’t say north and south, partly because the province is on a southwest northeast angle. If you sailed out of the harbour in a straight line you’d end up in Namibia, not Europe.
Generally, up is uphill and away from the harbour and down is closer to sea level by the harbour. Downtown is whatever is near the water. “Right downtown” means the parallel streets of Brunswick, Grafton, Argyle, Barrington, Hollis and Lower Water from Cogswell to South.
TELL ME ABOUT…
Gaelic language idioms like after forgetting have worked their way into the English. You might hear someone order a pair as if it were singular: We’ll be having two beer. Hello is interchangeable with How’s she going because there is no word for “hello” in the Gaelic and the weather is expressed as female: she’s cold outside.
If you rented a car, using a mobile device while driving will land you a pricey ticket. Further, tickets for jaywalking or not yielding to a pedestrian are sky-high.
If you Google Halifax and look for restaurants, you’ll get The List.
The Tourist List. Restaurants pay to get their names up top. So let’s skip over The List and go straight into short list of places I’d recommend to a friend visiting the downtown core.
With the exception of sushi places and pubs, a reservation is highly recommended.
- Old Triangle on Prince Street
- Irish pub, low-key Tory friendly
- Restaurant A Mano at Bishop’s Landing
- Best service in the city
- Baton Rouge
- Barrington Steakhouse & Oyster BarThey’ve hosted Conservative events including Maxime Bernier in the past
- Darrell’s Restaurant on Fenwick Street
- Tired of fancy? Have one of their beloved peanut butter burgers.
- Dharma Sushi on Argyle
- Sushi Nami on Queen Street
- La Frasca Cibi & Vini on Springgarden
- Bicycle Thief at Bishop’s Landing
- Da Maurizio
- Henry House English Pub
- A bit loud, I often run into Tories there
- Wooden Monkey
For takeout and delivery:
- Alexandra’s Pizza on Queen Street
- Bitcoin ATM
- The Italian Market on Barrington Place Pedway
- Best best if you’re looking to grab a healthy lunch for several people at once
- Mezza on Barrington
- Lebanese food
- If you’re over 30, do not attempt a donair. Get the chicken shawarma.
TELL ME MORE
While Nova Scotia is New Scotland, our province — whose Carboniferous geology includes not only gypsum and coal but a fossil record dating back 310 million years — is not overwhelmingly Scottish. No more than 28% of the province at any time has had an ethnic Scottish background. At the height of Scottishness in 1921, locals giving their information on the census as having an “English origin” presented at 39%. But, the province (especially in the north) has a distinct Celtic flare when you factor in the Irish settlers… and when you factor in the destructive policies of the postwar Liberal government that abolished native Gaelic while simultaneously branding the province as your one-stop shop for quaint folk with silly fiddle tunes and plaid. Read more here.
- Middle SpoonDessert, low lights and cocktails
- Smoke’s PoutinerieAuthentic
- The Highwayman
- Ultra fancy cocktails
- Obladee on Barrington
- Comprehensive wine list, friendly knowledge staff, site of numerous frou-frou Tinder dates. Food is very local sourced. If you arrive early, then Wednesday Night Jazz is a must-see. Owned by members of the extended Rankin Family.
- Press Gang
- Known for scotch and oysters, it’s aimed at people who expense their entertainment budgets and to Decembers looking to impress their Mays. Bit of a fishbowl — pedestrians stare as they walk by.
- The Bitter EndLow-key Tory friendly martini bar, has hosted Progressive Conservative functions.
- Alexandra’s Pizza on Queen Street
- Bitcoin ATM
- The Daily Grind on Springgarden
- Newspapers, coffee, magazines and a Bitcoin ATM
- Scotian Smoke on Albemarle
- Limited hours, but has a Bitcoin ATM
- Snappy Tomato on Barrington
- Haven’t tried their pizza but they do have a Bitcoin ATM
*Please note that while Durty Nelly’s bar on Argyle Street is often mentioned in media for having a BTC ATM, it has been removed from the premises.
Breakfast and Coffee:
- The best coffee shops are slightly outside of the downtown core, so choose Tims or Starbucks. Otherwise, you can find indie coffee shops in The North End of Halifax or on Quinpool Street.
AVOID THE TOURIST TRAPS
Like I said, Halifax isn’t known for sea food because it’s not “fancy” here — fish, cod cakes and mussels are pub food. If you must, Barrington Steak & Oyster has a tremendous selection of oysters by region and Baton Rouge is filled to the brim with lobster dishes.
GENERAL NOTE ON EATING IN HALIFAX:
- Restaurants generally accept casual clothing.
- Seafood is eaten at home after being purchased from your buddy — we aren’t known for seafood restaurants, at least not in the city proper. Try to get yourself invited to a local home or funeral if you want the real deal.
- Local beer and cider are available almost everywhere.
- Don’t tell anyone you’re here for the conservative convention.
- We don’t have Uber, or Ubereats.
- Sidewalks are in poor condition, so don’t expect to walk far in your high heels. Call Casino Taxi at 902-425-6666.
- We use “supper” and “dinner” interchangeably.
WHERE’S THE PARTY AT?
The official website for the convention lists some events… some events. There’s more.
Headquarters must be sleeping, because they’re missing a few on the official breakdown.
So here’s a better schedule, albeit one that ignores all of the hospitality suites taking place at the Nova Centre and focuses on the off-site hijinks. I’ll update as I see more events pop up on social media.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 23
LGBTory at the Auction House, 1726 Argyle Street at 9pm [Facebook Event]
FRIDAY, AUGUST 24
CPC Convention Party w/ NSPC Leadership Candidate Cecil Clarke at Alexander Keith’s Brewery, 1496 Lower Water Street at 7pm [Facebook Event]*
Nova Scotia Celtic Ceilidh with NS PC leadership candidate Tim Houston with former MP Peter MacKay, on Argyle Street right outside the venue at 7pm [Event Page]*
SATURDAY, AUGUST 25
East Coast Kitchen Party at Pier 21, 6pm [Buy Tickets]
BC Conservatives Post-Conservative Convention Pints & Politics at the HFX Sports Bar & Grill, 1721 Brunswick Street at 6pm [Facebook Event]
*Tim Houston and Cecil Clarke are competing along with several others to be the next leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party.
Wow, Thanks Margaret, Will I See You There?
You’re very welcome! … and I’ll be there! …sort of.
I was a delegate representing the Halifax EDA at the 2013 convention in Calgary. I’ve been off and on with my membership for over a decade, but in recent years I haven’t been too motivated to dedicate myself Canada-side. Instead, I worked in American politics as a ghostwriter where my pieces for Breitbart were personally denounced by Hillary Clinton. I’ve had a hand across the board during the lead-up to the Trump election, and afterwards I wrote television commercials for state Republicans and worked with the Warfare Media team that brought you the Deploraball.
So while I’m happily conservative, I don’t believe the best use of my time is to attend get-togethers as a voting member. With that in mind, I’m not giving up entirely — even if I’m still clinging to the vote I put in for Max Bernier during the leadership. But that doesn’t mean I’ll spend the $1500+ observer fee for the opportunity to stick my nose on to the floor, so instead I’ll be around the social events and outside the venue with some technology to livestream the goings-on to the world. Follow my Twitter during the convention for all of the details. Come say hi, and tell us your story. Or ask me for directions.
I’m nothing like a journalist, but I live here, so it only makes sense I’d book time away from work to call attention to the party faithful. You can read more about what I plan to do while covering the event here, and donate towards tech and security costs with both PayPal and Bitcoin.